New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife Back to State of NJ Homepage Back to Fish and Game Homepage Back to DEP Homepage 


February 26, 1999

For more information contact:
Dan Ferrigno at 609-259-8692

The Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife reminds New Jerseyans that hunter access is the key to controlling New Jersey's deer herd and the costly property damage associated with it. Although a lack of hunter access to the land remains the biggest challenge to controlling deer in the Garden State, there are many areas where hunting has been successfully used to manage deer and deer-related damage.

"The only way to successfully curb the damage caused by deer is to allow a sufficient number of hunters access to the areas suffering losses," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "The biggest challenge facing professional deer management today is providing hunters with access to the land and the deer. "In fact, independent research for the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife has shown that lack of private land to hunt on is the major reason people give up hunting in New Jersey."

"Providing hunter access is no small task. Our team of university-trained professional deer biologists bring a combined total of more than 125 years of experience to the management table in an effort to better control the Garden State's white-tailed deer population for the benefit of the resource and all New Jerseyans," said Fred Carlson, Chief of the Division's Bureau of Wildlife Management.

A recent study by the Rutgers University Center for Wildlife Damage Control determined that 43% of the farmers surveyed indicated the presence of a deer refuge within one mile of their most severe losses. In those areas where hunters are allowed on the land, the deer herd is under control and crop damage is minimal.

For instance, landowners in western Sussex and Warren counties, known as Deer Management Zone (DMZ) 4, have very little deer-related property damage as compared to zones with much less public and private land open to hunting. In fact, since the deer population is controlled so well in this area of the state, regulations are in place to ensure that too many deer are not harvested. In contrast, DMZ 41 in Hunterdon and Mercer counties, has so little hunter access that extensive crop damage forced the Division to extend the Permit Shotgun Season for two additional weeks.

Success has also been achieved through the Division's Community-Based Deer Management Program. Through this cooperative program, the Division works directly with local communities experiencing deer-related problems to successfully develop a management plan to control the population. Implemented in the Watchung Reservation of Union County, the series of special deer hunts has successfully reduced the population to a manageable level. In contrast, other areas that do not take advantage of hunting as a management tool have and will continue to experience heavy damage due to deer.

"The Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife is committed to assisting farmers and other landowners with controlling the damage associated with white-tailed deer, however, efforts that do not include hunting offer only minimal relief," said McDowell. "To fully control the deer herd, a many-pronged approach utilizing hunter access to the land is necessary."

To achieve this multi-faceted approach to deer control, the Division has developed a hunter education program to emphasize safety and ethics, as well as the need to harvest adequate numbers of antlerless deer. In addition, other types of assistance are offered to landowners experiencing deer damage.

Each year, the agency issues more than 500 permits to shoot deer in situations of substantial crop damage, distributes 350 rolls of mesh wire for fence construction and 600 gallons of deer repellent. The Division also administers the Deer Fencing Grant Program through the Department of Agriculture. Through this program, 5,000 additional rolls of mesh wire are distributed annually.

The Division has also developed a landowner guide to assist farmers with deer control. The guide offers a practical approach to deer population control based on professional management techniques. The Division will also provide assistance to farmers who wish to implement the program. For a free copy of the brochure, write to the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, P.O. Box 400, Trenton, NJ 08625-0400, Attn: Landowner Guide.